2.1. Background info
The escalation of hostilities in Ukraine, on 24 February 2022, has led to a rapid expansion of conflict-affected areas in the East, North and South of Ukraine. Multiple settlements, including large cities with dense built-up cover, were severely damaged between the end of February – April. Additional threats arise from natural disasters for ecosystems located in conflicted-affected areas with cascading negative effects on environment and human well-being.
Numerous incidents of building damage were reported for both living houses and infrastructure in impacted settlements.
While in the first week since the beginning of escalation direct locations and type of damaged objects were transparently revealed, currently such reports in media are forbidden due to security reasons. That led to uncertainty in the understanding of the extent of damage to economics, transport, healthcare, and educational infrastructure in the areas of both ongoing and stopped hostilities.
Remote sensing data is an efficient and safe tool to estimate the occurrence and severity of damage to buildings infrastructure in affected settlements. While acquisition of 3D images by unmanned aerial vehicles (with possibility to visually examine all types of damage to buildings and structures) is rather impossible due to security concerns, high-resolution satellite imagery can be a relevant source of reliable data of conflict impact. Visual interpretation of conflict and post-conflict images in previously known locations of facilities, buildings and infrastructure can support a robust assessment of conflict impact on structures in affected urban areas.
Close cooperation with UNOSAT on the analysis of high-resolution optical satellite imagery is crucial to derive robust estimates of the damage of residential buildings. Those are a data source to calculate the population that lost their shelters.
In larger urban settlements there could be a substantial variation of damage severity linked to local district (neighbourhood) features. Those are the average number of apartments in one building, dominance of private living houses or multi-floor buildings in the district, proximity to large infrastructural objects, road network connectivity. Detection of damage hotspots at neighbourhood level in larger urban settlements (i.e., cities with population > 200,000 citizens) with following affected population estimates might facilitate more convenient planning of shelter needs’ assessments. This analysis of building footprints will result in a consistent flow of informative outputs for interested humanitarian actors and local authorities.
2.2. Intended impact
This assessment aims to report locations where damage to residential buildings should be the highest for humanitarian actors and local authorities. Although remote sensing satellite data cannot fully capture the damage caused by conflict hostilities, it illustrates general trends while field (ground or drone surveys) are restricted or impossible. Estimation of hotspots of damaged residential buildings at detailed (neighbourhood) level is primarily designed to inform Shelter Cluster and other interested humanitarian actors and local authorities in geospatially intuitive manner. Additionally, translations of project products to Ukrainian are intended to inform local policy makers and authorities for more robust planning and management in conflict-affected areas.